RE: Alt/Life
Jul 01, 2018

Selection pressures cause jigsaw puzzle pieces to evolve chromatophores, become harder to solve as a result.

Local family discovers amazing evolutionary development after losing jigsaw puzzle pieces, only to realise the pieces changed colours in order to better hide from them. Puzzles also became difficult to solve as they could no longer use the picture on box cover as reference.

In what many see as another example of the rise of 'unnature', scientists have confirmed the discovery of chromatophores in objects previously thought of as inorganic. How wide this phenomenon has spread is unknown, however the repercussions are being felt globally as governments and puzzle makers look to harness this new evolutionary development.

"Imagine", said a source within the government's military research division, "a world of semi-organic tanks being able to blend into their surroundings without any input from humans. The stealth implications are immense."

On the other side of the board, popular jigsaw puzzle makers view this as 'game changing'. "Games that continually change? Yeah, there's a market for that, and we'd be negligent to our shareholders if we weren't looking to exploit this development. For the moment it seems to be unique to jigsaw puzzles, so we're not sure how broadly this can be applied. How the pieces of evolved this is way is unknown, but we have solid theories as to why", a spokesperson said.

How? As the theory goes, millions of jigsaw puzzles get selected to be matched with other pieces based on colour or pattern, as per the picture on the cover of the box. Those pieces that are more easily identifiable get picked first; the exception of course being the edge pieces, which are picked primarily on shape. This creates an environment where natural selection can take places, with those least visually like the picture on the box selected last and so have more time to build up methods to remain undetected, and so stay unselected. Like bacteria that develop immunities from anti-biotics because the most resistant strains survive the longest, the puzzles that do not get picked first manage to build up a natural resistance to being noticed.

In one strain of puzzle piece, this natural resistance has evolved the ability actively hide by changing their colour.

Not everyone is thrilled with this new inorganic ability however. World Jigsaw Puzzle Solving Champion, Lars Henerhjelm, who also holds the Guinness world record for the fastest person to solve a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, has spoken out about the military or commercial exploitation of these unnatural genes.

"I'd be lying if I said this didn't pose a risk to my position and world records, of course. But that's not why I'm opposed to these applications", Lars wrote in an open letter to the U.N. "While yes having dynamic jigsaw puzzles makes standardised competitions almost impossible, it still remains a challenge and one I would be happy to accept.

No. The reason I'm opposed is purely about survival. What if this gene gets out naturally and allows other inorganic items hide? Cars, robots? Can you imagine chromatophoric based Lego pieces being able to blend into rugs? It is already a near minefield walking around a child's playroom, almost impossible not to step on anything. Nowhere would be safe to walk without hard soled shoes."